Wednesday 31 August 2016

No Counsel for Complacency

A quick note on that poll of Labour members. It certainly makes for interesting reading. Jeremy leads Owen by 62% to 38% in the members section, with breakdowns of 70/30 among the £25ers, and 54/33 among affiliated trade unionists. Women are more likely to vote Jez than men (though he leads in both genders), and his greatest support is in the north. So much for the metropolitan brocialist label slung around disingenuously by Owen's fair weather friends.

The set of stats that interest me the most is the divide between members present before the Corbyn surge and the members that have joined since his campaign reached take off last year. The only lead Owen has is among the constituency of older members, who go for him 68/32. Meanwhile, the newer members are for Jezza 72/28, which climbs to 86% among those who joined the party since his assumption of office.

One shouldn't read too much in polls like this. Despite a sample size of 1,236 respondents and YouGov's best efforts at taking a representative sample, it's much more difficult to do than one mirroring the general population as, necessarily, the sample is drawn from Labour supporters who are already signed up to YouGov and take part in its surveys. How representative are they of the party selectorate? Putting that issue aside, while it is good news for the Jez camp and demoralising for Team Owen, the numbers should give the more thoughtful Jeremy supporters pause for, um, thought.

It's those 'old members' numbers, you see. "They don't matter", some might say, "the new members are the majority now." Yes, they are. But last year, the pre-election members also went for Jeremy. As we know, Jez was a smidgen short of an absolute majority among the full members, hoovering up 49.6%. Among the pre-election members, he still won a handsome plurality at 44% - so not much drift between them and the overall preference. If YouGov's new figures hold true then that support has collapsed, despite some evidence of relatively small numbers of anti-Jez members leaving the party. This is a cause for concern because that collapse could also spread to the newer members. In fact, that's what's Jeremy's opponents are banking on for another leadership challenge next summer.

Yes, it's true Jez's leadership was undermined from before the moment he took office, and that will continue. But his statecraft game isn't especially strong either, and that's something I'll return to once the contest is done. In the mean time, these figures should be taken as a warning, not a counsel for complacency.


ray said...

who can trust polls anymore ?
count the crowds that the two candidates are attracting.

corbyn is building a movement.

Peter Kenyon said...

Love your understatement re: statecraft

Igor Belanov said...

Given that most of the 'old members' by the fact that they were members prior to 2015 had already fallen for the unconvincing 'electability' and 'lesser evil' arguments, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that they've fallen back on them again.

When you consider all the criticism of Corbyn is the mainstream media and the fact that the PLP and party establishment have opposed him so strongly and threatened to destroy the party if he is re-elected, the real surprise should be that he is still polling so well in this campaign.

Speedy said...

I know Igor. "Electability"! The fools!

This must be what a cult feels like.

Igor Belanov said...

@ Speedy

There was a reason I put 'electability' in inverted commas you fool. It was because there are very few people in the PLP and party establishment that are in a fit position to lecture anyone about how to win elections. They wouldn't really know what to do if they DID win.

Speedy said...

I disagree. Most Labour members voted for David over Ed because they knew what electability meant, and it has been downhill since then. It was the unions wot torpedoed Labour then, as now.

Anonymous said...

Speedy, do you have any "opinion" that isn't the most tedious, hackneyed, third hand, utterly predictable saloon bar drivel?

Just asking :)

Speedy said...

Anonymous, no, but I do endeavour to be polite, as much as my opinions might offend... ;-)

Speedy said...

Incidentally, "anonymous", the fact that David won a majority of the membership - who were most definitely choosing "electability" - is not an opinion.

This result was overturned by the union vote. The issue in question is whether "older" members care about electability - clearly they once did, and do again.

It is also fair comment to have a swipe at the unions, who backed Ed, and now back Jeremy. They also royally fucked previous Labour administrations, ushering in - as they are now - decades of Tory rule.

I appreciate most of you don't care about this - but these facts are not opinions. Opinions are what most of you have, and prefer, so you can prop up your virtual bar forever and a day, sounding off about the iniquities of this and that without actually having to consider the consequences and compromises of power.

Just saying.

ray said...

"but I do endeavour to be polite..."

Anonymous said...

Firstly, DM did not win a "majority" of members - not if you count first preferences anyway. He won a (narrow) plurality.

Secondly, it was his election to lose and quite a few members (as with MPs) supported him because "he was going to win anyway". The desire to be on the winning side can often be quite powerful.

I can confirm from my conversations at the time that very few people, even those voting for him, were inspired by the elder Milibrother. Ed of that ilk inspired quite a bit more enthusiasm.

Phil said...

Is support falling from 44% to 32% really a collapse? It's not good, but it's not that ominous, I don't think. Apart from anything else, the local MP has a lot of personal sway over active and longstanding CLP members, particularly where the MP him/herself has been in place for some time. The MPs who have come out against Corbyn recently - particularly the ones with the accounts of how 'we tried to make it work' - will have swung quite a few votes to Smith, particularly in that 'older' group of members.

('Older' in quotes, and not just for Dylan-related reasons. I'm a September '95 recruit myself, and I remember how it felt when Callaghan lost to Thatcher. If I'm still behind Corbyn, it's not because I haven't imagined what it would be like for Labour to lose again.)